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Poster: Moongleam Date: Jul 27, 2013 5:11am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Secret Service of the Air (1939): late renewal? (Video-Cellar)

HektorT wrote:


Underlying story or music rights don't necessarily mean a film is not PD. There are cases where that happens but I think they are the exception rather than the rule. The general practice seems to be more that producers will purchase buy-out rights for the film that allow the story or film to be used with the film forever. The few cases where films were pulled from the PD due to underlying rights generally had extenuating circumstances that overrode what was written in the contract.

In the past VideoCellar has almost universally claimed that underlying rights meant a film could not be PD, but in a few recent discussions he has backed off that position.


http://archive.org/post/394229/possible-upload

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Poster: Video-Cellar Date: Jul 27, 2013 3:04pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Secret Service of the Air (1939): late renewal? (Video-Cellar)

It usually comes down to when the underlying work was registered (published or unpublished). If the work was registered before the film, the film becomes a derivative work based on the underlying work. If the underlying work was not registered or published before the publication of the film the courts have found that an underlying work is published with the film "insomuch as it is revealed in the film." This includes the script, artistic works and the music as decisions on all these types of underlying works exist.

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Poster: Moongleam Date: Jul 28, 2013 4:55am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Secret Service of the Air (1939): late renewal? (Video-Cellar)

So you're saying that The Red Danube can't be PD because it was based on a previously published novel?

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Poster: larus Date: Jul 28, 2013 6:08am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Secret Service of the Air (1939): late renewal? (Video-Cellar)

Underlying story or music rights don't necessarily mean a film is not PD.
Of course, for example, The Chase (1946) is distributed by Alpha Video even though it's derived from a book that is still under copyright:
The black path of fear. © 2Jun44; A181087. Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. (E); 15Jul71; R509211.

Too late for tears is also distributed by Alpha although the underlying novel is still under copyright:
Too late for tears. By Roy Huggins. Appeared serially in Saturday evening post, Apr. 19-May 20, 1947. NM: additions. © 20Aug47; A15646. Roy Huggins (A); 11Mar75; R599913.
Too late for tears. By Roy Huggins. (In Saturday evening post, Apr. 19, 1947) © 16Apr47; B73197. Roy Huggins (A); 11Mar75; R599914.
Too late for tears. By Roy Huggins. (In The Saturday evening post, May 03, 1947) © 30Apr47; B75323. Roy Huggins (A); 11Mar75; R599915.
Too late for tears. By Roy Huggins. (In Saturday evening post, Apr. 26, 1947) © 23Apr47; B74264. Roy Huggins (A); 11Mar75; R599916.
Too late for tears. By Roy Huggins. (In Saturday evening post, May 10, 1947) © 7May47; B75958. Roy Huggins (A); 11Mar75; R599917.
Too late for tears. By Roy Huggins. (In Saturday evening post, May 17, 1947) © 14May47; B76516. Roy Huggins (A); 11Mar75; R599918.
Too late for tears. By Roy Huggins. (In Saturday evening post, May 24, 1947) © 21May47; B78029. Roy Huggins (A); 11Mar75; R599919.

And finally, The great Flamarion (1945) is also distributed by Alpha although based on a novel still under copyright:
Big shot, by Vicki Baum, pseud. (in Collier's, Sept. 19, 1936) © 11Sep36; B312775- Richard Lert (Wr); 14jul64; R341584.


There are cases where that happens but I think they are the exception rather than the rule.
I am not so sure about what is the exception and what is the rule. To start with, we have the well-known court case around the 1938 version of Pygmalion, which prohibited public-domain distributors from selling the film due to the underlying play still being copyrighted. Then, we have It's a wonderful life and Charade.
I've also noticed that Alpha Video isn't carrying any of the following, all of which were not renewed while the underlying novels were renewed:
-The man with the golden arm (1955)
(novel renewal: The Man with the golden arm. By Nelson
Algren. © 8Sep49; A35815. Nelson Algren (A); 10Sep76; R641551.)
-The snows of Kilimanjaro (1952)
(story renewal: The snows of Kilimanjaro. (in Esquire, Aug. 1936) © 7Jul36; B305653. Mary Hemingway (W); 8Aug63; R320201.)
-To kill a mockingbird (1962)
novel renewal:
Type of Work: Text
Registration Number / Date: RE0000387164 / 1988-06-13
Renewal registration for: A00000448971 / 1960-04-25
Title: To kill a mockingbird. By Harper Lee.
Copyright Claimant: Harper Lee (A)
-A walk in the sun (1945)
(novel renewal: A walk in the sun. © 26Jun44; A181989. Harry Brown (A); 9Jul71; R508743.)

At this stage, I know more out-of-copyright films based on copyrighted novels/stories that are avoided by Alpha than such films distributed by them. While I am aware that these examples only come from memory and not from an exhaustive study, I wonder what is the rule and what is the exception.

The general practice seems to be more that producers will purchase buy-out rights for the film that allow the story or film to be used with the film forever.
I don't know if you can really generalize about that. For The constant nymph (1943), derived from both a novel and play, Warner Bros only had the rights for 10 years, after which the rights reverted to the novel and play copyright holders. As a result, the film wasn't shown between 1952 and 2011, when TCM finally managed to strike a deal with the right holders.

The few cases where films were pulled from the PD due to underlying rights generally had extenuating circumstances that overrode what was written in the contract.
Possibly, but:
-how do we get to know the details of such a contract to start with?
-how can be sure what these extenuating circumstances are and how a given film is immune to them?

I would advise to stay away from The red Danube until the impact of the underlying rights can be fully understood. But at the end of the day, I have proof neither that the underlying rights preclude from distributing the film nor that the film can be safely distributed, so that is your call.

This post was modified by larus on 2013-07-28 13:08:58

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Poster: HektorT Date: Sep 28, 2013 6:28am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Secret Service of the Air (1939): late renewal? (Video-Cellar)

"There are cases where that happens but I think they are the exception rather than the rule.
I am not so sure about what is the exception and what is the rule. To start with, we have the well-known court case around the 1938 version of Pygmalion, which prohibited public-domain distributors from selling the film due to the underlying play still being copyrighted. Then, we have It's a wonderful life and Charade."

Looking at the link you posted to the case discussion on copyrightdata.com, the exception for the film Pygmalion would be that:
a) the screnplay was written by the rights holder for the stage play.
b) there is no indication anywhere that the rights to the underlying play were purchased (possibly because they hired the rights owner to write the screenplay thinking that this exempted them from that requirement?).

So IMO Pygmalion falls squarely into the area of "exception" with little room for debate. With respect to "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Charade", I've stated in depth in other threads here what I think the issues are with those.

IMO the "rule" is that producers purchase underlying rights on a buyout basis. The "exception" comes when the terms of the buyout become invalid for some reason, when there is no buyout, or when the film was made outside of the US, in which case other issues may come up. Pygmalion appears to be a British production, by the way and British contracts may not always be "work for hire" as is generally the case ofr US productions (work for hire means when you accept payment for your work, you are waiving all intellectual property rights that you might have). Being a British production also raised other issues for the film, which are separate from the underlying rights issue.

This post was modified by HektorT on 2013-09-28 13:28:56